Magnetic Mystery


Oct. 12, 2001 (SKI by Troy M. Hawks)--Name your pain, and there's a good chance there's a magnet product designed to relieve it. Magnet therapy has been used to take away pain for more than 4,000 years, although no one can definitively explain how it works. One of the most popular theories is that magnets somehow improve blood flow to the injured part of the body, which in turn brings more oxygen to the location, thereby reducing inflammation, easing pain and accelerating healing. Some therapeutic magnet vendors even argue that where traditional painkillers can hinder a skier's performance in terms of judgment, reflex, motor control and depth perception, magnets offer pain relief with no side effects. Yet for every report that magnet treatments work, there is a doctor ready to shrug them off as a placebo.

Nevertheless, hundreds of skiers are reporting that where other therapies failed, magnets are helping to ease their chronic pains. Vendors offer a wide variety of magnetic products-from mattresses to insoles-designed to relieve a skier's aches, whether it be in the wrists, elbows, knees or ankles. So if all else fails, it may be time to turn over your chronic pain to the polar powers that be.